Civil War in Syria
The two-year-old civil war in Syria may escalate very quickly.
This could be the week the United States commits itself to selling arms to Syrian rebels fighting President Assad and his Russian/Iran-backed government and army. The gossip has grown so loud in Washington; Secretary of State John Kerry has put off a planned trip to the Middle East so he can meet with White House officials.
It’s a sensitive subject that has been debated for years. Should the U.S. arm the rebels with sophisticated weapons in their civil war against Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s forces?
The Final Decision
The final decision could come as early as this week, but one anonymous government official warned deliberations on the issue could easily take longer.
Meanwhile, Kerry has cancelled his trip to Israel and the Palestinian territories to attend the White House meetings, according to an Obama administration source.
The new pressure to allow weapons to be placed in the hands of the relatively unknown rebels derives from recent changes in the civil war. The rebels are being confronted suddenly by the Lebanese Hezbollah who have sided with Assad’s forces.
The under-equipped Syrian rebels are no match for this new entity allying with Assad.
What Will Obama Do?
Many experts feel that if President Obama steps into the fray, the likelihood of a U.S. and Russian planned peace conference to bring the warring sides together could succeed with the aim of a political transition to remove Assad from power.
Assad’s forces, now backed by Hezbollah and Iran, are beginning to show the upper hand in a conflict now over two years old. At this stage of the war, Assad has very little incentive to call it quits and flee to exile.
With the Iraq War now in the United States’ rear-view mirror and Afghanistan winding down, could this be the power play President Obama can use to shift attention away from five ongoing Washington scandals?